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Another 14th With Still No Real Justice in Sight

justice delayed justice denied another milestone for laddie gillett
Last Updated: November 12, 2021

We’ve just passed another sad milestone.

It’s been four months since 14 year-old Laddie was murdered by then Police Corporal Kareem Martinez, and we feel no closer to seeing justice served than we did immediately following that nightmare evening of July 14, 2021, when Laddie’s life was cut short by the Corporal’s bullet to his back.

Not only are we no closer to justice, we feel it slipping away with each passing month as Laddie’s murderer continues to enjoy his freedom.

However, we can say that there has been some positive news recently.

Late last week we heard that Kareem Martinez is no longer Corporal Martinez; that COMPOL Chester Williams saw him dismissed from the police force as part of a house cleaning to get rid of dirty cops.

“I can tell you that over the past few weeks we have again dismissed a number of officers and it goes to show that this administration is not in the habit of shielding or condoning the undisciplined behavior of police officers. I can tell you that Corporal Martinez who was involved in the fatal shooting of Laddie Gillette (sic) he has been dismissed via our tribunal process,” Commissioner Williams said.

And while we take issue with lumping the murder of an innocent child with “undisciplined behaviour,” and feel that Martinez deliberately shooting Laddie in the back goes further than him just being “involved in the fatal shooting,” we still salute Commissioner Williams for taking much needed action against Martinez and other bad cops.

The Commissioner made those statements following news that, after the discovery of yet another drug plane landing in Belize, police officers, including a sergeant and corporal, were allegedly involved in the importation of some 25 bales of cocaine.

Martinez being dismissed from the police force is certainly welcome news. But we, as a community, must still feel aggrieved and fearful that the killer remains at large and free to walk our streets and beaches.

Being a serving police officer involved in facilitating the importation of large amounts of cocaine into Belize is bad – very bad. But it falls short of murdering a boy with a police service weapon.

While Commissioner Williams deserves credit for his actions, we respectfully ask that he now take the next necessary steps to avoid public perception that this latest purge of bad police officers is simply a one-off activity, or an exercise in managing unfavourable media coverage.

We ask that he, and other Belize Police senior officers, take actions to enact real, long term reform.

Soon after Laddie was murdered, we asked that authorities consider implementing something we call Laddie’s Law.

It contains a few clear, concise, and practical provisions:

• Create a private citizens review board to examine and report on any instance of a minor being hurt or killed by police officers.

• Any police officer who, in carrying out his or her duties, causes injuries or death to a member of the public, and especially a minor, immediately be tested for the presence of drugs or alcohol by an impartial medical professional or clinic.

• Results of those tests, as well as sworn testimony by attending police officers, medical personnel and ambulance drivers be immediately and formally recorded.

• Police officers who discharge their service weapons – for any reason - must fill out and sign a form outlining when, where, under what conditions, and for what reason they fired their weapon.

We honestly believe that enacting something like this will go a long way towards re-establishing community trust in law enforcement and the fair application of the law in Belize.

We’ve always maintained that the majority of Belize’s police force is comprised of decent, honest, hardworking men and women doing a difficult job for not a lot of money.

We extend that belief to the head of Belize’s force; Commissioner Williams. By all accounts, he is a decent, honest, hard working Belizean doing a very difficult job.

Commissioner Williams showed respect for Laddie’s family by attending his funeral, and laying a wreath at his tomb. We therefore hope that he will continue this respect by seriously considering Laddie’s Law, and taking steps to implement it.

Doing so will also further Laddie’s legacy, and add meaning to a life tragically cut short by an officer who, at the time, was serving under the Commissioner.

This is the kind of action and leadership that will go a long way in mending and strengthening community relations between him, his officers and the communities they serve.

Next steps in Justice for Laddie

By dismissing Kareem Martinez from the police force, Commissioner Williams effectively washed his hands of the former corporal. Martinez’s fate is now in the hands of the judiciary, and we will be soon asking Laddie’s friends, supporters, and members of the public to help us petition the Chief Justice, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and other relevant officials to quickly bring Martinez to trial.

We will continually be reminding the authorities that we, as a community, have not forgotten Laddie, and that

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

Stay tuned